Thursday, March 13, 2008
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Illinois Participates in International 'Cyber Storm II' Exercise

Exercise Tests State's Cyber Security Preparedness and Response Capabilities

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[March 13, 2008]  SPRINGFIELD -- Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich announced that Illinois is participating in a major international cyber security exercise this week that will test the state's cyber security preparedness and response capabilities. The exercise, known as Cyber Storm II, involves participants from 18 federal departments and agencies, nine states, five countries, and more than 40 private sector companies.

"Ensuring the security of electronic data, both in the private and public sectors, is critical to protecting public safety, critical infrastructure and our economy," said Blagojevich. "Just as we continually prepare for natural disasters, we must also be prepared to respond to a man-made disaster, such as a cyber attack."

In addition to Illinois, states participating in the exercise are California, Colorado, Delaware, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia. Participating countries are the United States, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. The primary state agencies involved in the exercise are the Department of Central Management Services, the Illinois State Police, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency and the Illinois Department of Transportation, with several other agencies having limited involvement.

Since Tuesday, bits of exercise-related information have been provided to various exercise participants as the scenario develops. On Thursday, the scenario escalates with the activation of the State Emergency Operations Center in Springfield following a simulated hacking of a state computer system. Another key development on Thursday involves the Decatur Police Department, which will conduct a mock emergency response team arrest of suspects linked to exercise scenario incidents in Illinois, Colorado, Michigan and at the federal level. The Macon County Emergency Management Agency will also be participating in the exercise by partially activating their county Emergency Operations Center.

Central Management Services, which maintains the Illinois Century Network -- the state's cyber network -- is using the exercise to test how the state responds in the event of a coordinated cyber attack on its information technology infrastructure. CMS will scrutinize its communication, command and control -- once the cyber villains have broken into the state network.

"Illinois plays an important role in Cyber Storm II in that it helps prepare the state for the very real threat of a coordinated cyber attack on its network infrastructure," said Maureen T. O'Donnell, acting director of CMS. "The Illinois Century Network touches over 8,000 schools, hospitals, local and state governments in Illinois."

Through its participation in the exercise, the Illinois State Police hopes to test critical technical systems and allow the agency to closely examine information technology operations. One goal of the exercise scenario is to analyze the communication between Illinois State Police and law enforcement fusion centers around the nation and the agency's ability to communicate with federal, state and local partners.

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"The Illinois State Police and all of law enforcement must remain ready to respond to any critical incident, whether it's a natural disaster, breech of security or an attack to the cyber infrastructure," said ISP Director Larry G. Trent. "Exercises like Cyber Storm ensure we are prepared to respond accordingly, and the means of communication are not compromised on the local, state or federal level. There is so much to gain from mock incidents in which agencies must formulate a coordinated response."

In addition to coordinating state response activities in Springfield, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency will be testing the state's capabilities for transmitting multiple video images of the Decatur incident scene to the State Emergency Operations Center via satellite. The exercise will also test cameras with microwave transmitters mounted on an Illinois Department of Transportation helicopter and an Illinois State Police fixed-wing airplane to provide a broader perspective of the scene. The video images from all sources will be viewed by state agency liaisons in the State Emergency Operations Center, allowing them to see the scene firsthand and better enable them to determine appropriate response needs.

"Our ability to send live video images of a disaster scene back to the SEOC is a tremendous aid to our response planning efforts," said Illinois Emergency Management Agency Director Andrew Velasquez III. "When we can actually see what the scene looks like, we can more effectively match state resources with what is needed. We're very pleased to have the opportunity to test these capabilities during this exercise so that we know we're ready to deploy them during a real disaster."

Velasquez added that Illinois conducted its own cyber exercise in October 2007 and is implementing lessons learned from that experience in today's exercise.

Following the exercise, participating state agencies will examine activities and responses and look for ways to further enhance the state's response capabilities.

According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Cyber Storm II is the nation's largest and most comprehensive cyber security exercise.

[Text from file received from the Illinois Office of Communication and Information]

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